MSRC News Details

MSRC Director Dr. Thomas Joiner to receive the 2020 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Dr. Thomas Joiner, FSU's Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology, has been selected as a recipient of the 2020 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association of Psychological Science. The award recognizes APS members for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the area of applied psychological research.

Nominees for the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award must be APS members whose research addresses a critical problem in society at large. The association typically selects only three recipients for the award each year from across the entire psychological science field.

"It's a validation of decades of work put in by my team and me," Joiner said. "It is a major plank in a platform from which to advocate for the point of our work, suicide prevention."

In addition to his professorship, Joiner is also the director of Laboratory for the Study and Prevention of Suicide-Related Conditions and Behaviors at Florida State University. Over the course of his career, he has authored or edited over 695 peer-reviewed publications and 18 books, won major awards and grants, and made numerous radio, print and television appearances.

Despite the international recognition, Joiner said he refuses to rest on the laurels of this eminent award.

"I look up to my predecessors, and some of the ones of who have gotten this award before me were and are true heroes to me," Joiner said. "The accomplishments of James McKeen Cattell, for whom the award is named, are awe-inspiring. To be at all thought of in that same company may not be fully accurate, but it is rewarding."

Cattell was an American psychologist who became the first professor of psychology in the United States in 1888, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He dedicated his career to improving methodology for mental testing and applying psychology to areas of education, business, industry and advertising. Cattell founded the journal Psychological Review and was editor of the journal Science for decades.

Joiner said he believes his work is making an impact, but there's still work to do. That reality keeps him keenly focused on the goal.

"The whole point is preventing more suicides. I believe we're doing that already, which seems at odds with rising rates. But the real question is what would those rates have been absent our efforts? Higher still, I'm pretty sure. Nevertheless, I want to deflect the trajectory of rising rates to flattening and then to decreasing, asymptoting toward zero."

Joiner will receive his award in May 2020 at the 32nd APS Annual Convention in Chicago.

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